A motor launch is roaring up astern of us! I hate this nasty habit of people in fast boats who aim at our stern and then pass close to one side at the last minute. Dangerous, and downright rude! This one flies a French flag and is a customs launch bound like us for Bora Bora. Uniformed men solemnly survey us with binoculars. I do my best to return a frosty stare, but really it has an Inspector Clouseau air about it and the more I try to stir up resentful feelings, the funnier it seems.
The trades have decided to blink as a small front blows through from the opposite direction so Shiriri is reefed down and motor-sailing very slowly along the southern edge of the extensive reef that surrounds Bora Bora. Eventually we wallow around the corner, get a better slant of wind and sail along beside crashing waves whose tops blow off sideways in the gale. There`s the pass! We slip between the buoys and run across the still choppy lagoon and, helped by David of Francis, pick up a mooring close to land . It has been a nerve jangling all day struggle against wind and waves so we quickly stow all our sails before the next raindrops arrive and let out a long sigh of relief.
Heather and I have lots of writing and boat chores to do so when David and Lisa of Francis offer to take Anne with them around the Island for a few days it is a happy answer for Anne. When we are not busy below during the rain squalls, we walk to town along the shoreline path. It is hot in the sun so we become good at dodging from shade to shade. Walking the same path several times, we notice more and more: there is the family who specialize in turning palm fronds into prepared basket weaving supplies, down by the water a father and son work on rebuilding a wooden skiff, and further along toward town a group of men are building a concrete-block house. To these men we wave and say bonjour and indicate we admire their work. In a week we have become a small part of this village world and appreciate it as can only those who are constantly on the move. One day as we reach the edge of the little town, we meet a woman encumbered with recently bought souvenirs scurrying toward us with an harassed look on her face. We recognize a typical cruise ship problem; too much to see, to much to buy and too little time. She looks up at us and says,"Is there anything down there?"What she means of course is whether there is anything consumable behind us along the waterfront path; anything to buy, or see in fifteen minutes or less before the launch will take her back to the ship. We shake our heads and she thankfully turns back, satisfied now that she has got her moneys worth from this stop in paradise. We know that there is a whole special village world down that path but it has taken us a week to see it clearly and months of sailing to prepare for truly appreciating it.
Sailing in the bay with Miss. Chick Pea.
The big guns.
High on the hillside above our mooring at the Bora Bora Yacht Club ( a restaurant) are some WWII guns which once guarded the only pass into the lagoon: at that time one of the US Navy`s bases during the war with Japan. While I was a very little boy in England, this little Island was host to thousands of single men and their ships, planes and weapons of war. Michener, in "Tales from the South Pacific" describes it well, even if his Bali Ha`i was in what is now Vanuatu. Imagine the dislocation of life for the islanders as North America arrived with all of it`s way of life, machinery and lonely men.
As we try to fill our water tanks at the Club in preparation for departure I give a dinghy ride to a French couple who seem to have no dinghy to get out to their very small and shabby sailboat. She speaks some english so we make conversation. They are headed further across the Pacific to New Caledonia where they expect to find work. I shudder to think of this ill-found vessel heading back out to sea. It is at the other end of the scale from the mega yacht we last saw heading out of Papeete with it`s shipping magnate owner ensconced in his special chair and I fervently wish them luck. What is a casual remark back home seems full of power and portent in these conditions. Maybe it will make a difference!